Tabu Search Heuristics for the Order Batching Problem in Manual Order Picking Systems
In manual order picking systems, order pickers walk or ride through a distribution warehouse in order to collect items requested by (internal or external) customers. In order to perform these operations efficiently, it is usually required that customer orders are combined into (more substantial) picking orders of limited size. The Order Batching Problem considered in this paper deals with the question of how a given set of customer orders should be combined such that the total length of all tours necessary to collect all items is minimized. For the solution of this problem the authors suggest two approaches based on the tabu search principle. The first one is a straightforward classic Tabu Search algorithm (TS), the second one is the Attribute-Based Hill Climber (ABHC). In a series of extensive numerical experiments, the newly developed approaches are benchmarked against different solution methods from literature. It is demonstrated that the proposed methods are superior to existing methods and provide solutions which may allow for operating distribution warehouses significantly more efficiently.